Top 56 Prospects: Tampa Bay Rays by Eric Longenhagen March 18, 2020 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Tampa Bay Rays. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed, you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here. Editor’s Note: Esteban Quiroz was added to this list after he was received by the Rays as the Player To Be Named later in the Tommy Pham trade. Top Prospects Team Lists 20202019ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFGALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Rays Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Wander Franco 19.1 A+ SS 2021 80 2 Brendan McKay 24.3 MLB LHP 2020 60 3 Vidal Brujan 22.1 AA 2B 2021 55 4 Josh Lowe 22.1 AA CF 2021 50 5 Brent Honeywell 25.0 AAA RHP 2020 50 6 Xavier Edwards 20.6 A+ 2B 2023 50 7 Randy Arozarena 25.1 MLB CF 2020 50 8 Shane Baz 20.8 A RHP 2022 50 9 Taylor Walls 23.7 AA SS 2021 45 10 Shane McClanahan 22.9 AA LHP 2022 45 11 Yoshitomo Tsutsugo 28.3 MLB LF 2020 45 12 Greg Jones 22.0 A- SS 2022 45 13 Joe Ryan 23.8 AA RHP 2022 45 14 Alejandro Pie 18.1 R SS 2024 45 15 Ronaldo Hernandez 22.4 A+ C 2022 45 16 JJ Goss 19.2 R RHP 2024 45 17 Tyler Frank 23.2 A+ 2B 2021 45 18 Seth Johnson 21.5 R RHP 2023 40+ 19 Peter Fairbanks 26.3 MLB RHP 2020 40+ 20 Nick Schnell 20.0 A CF 2023 40+ 21 Kevin Padlo 23.7 AAA 3B 2020 40+ 22 Abiezel Ramirez 20.1 R SS 2022 40+ 23 Ford Proctor 23.3 A SS 2022 40 24 Riley O’Brien 25.1 AA RHP 2021 40 25 Moises Gomez 21.6 A+ RF 2022 40 26 Jhon Diaz 17.5 R CF 2025 40 27 Lucius Fox 22.7 AAA SS 2021 40 28 Drew Strotman 23.5 A+ RHP 2021 40 29 John Doxakis 21.6 A- LHP 2022 40 30 Michael Perez 27.6 MLB C 2020 40 31 Anthony Banda 26.6 MLB LHP 2020 40 32 Curtis Mead 19.4 R 2B 2023 40 33 Michael Plassmeyer 23.4 AAA LHP 2022 40 34 Tristan Gray 24.0 AA 1B 2020 40 35 Tanner Dodson 22.9 A+ RHP 2021 40 36 Joel Peguero 22.9 A RHP 2021 40 37 Resly Linares 22.3 A+ LHP 2022 40 38 Brian O’Grady 27.8 MLB CF 2020 35+ 39 Esteban Quiroz 28.1 AAA 2B 2020 35+ 40 Graeme Stinson 22.6 R LHP 2023 35+ 41 Sandy Gaston 18.3 R RHP 2023 35+ 42 Jelfry Marte 19.0 R SS 2023 35+ 43 Niko Hulsizer 23.1 A+ LF 2022 35+ 44 Cal Stevenson 23.5 A+ CF 2021 35+ 45 Colby White 21.7 A- RHP 2023 35+ 46 Audry Lugo 21.4 A- RHP 2023 35+ 47 Neraldo Catalina 19.7 R RHP 2023 35+ 48 Aneudy Cortorreal 20.3 R RHP 2023 35+ 49 Logan Driscoll 22.4 A- C 2023 35+ 50 Victor Munoz 19.2 R RHP 2022 35+ 51 Alberto Figuereo 19.9 R 2B 2022 35+ 52 Daiveyon Whittle 20.4 A- RHP 2023 35+ 53 Michael Mercado 20.9 A- RHP 2022 35+ 54 Jayden Murray 22.9 A- RHP 2023 35+ 55 Angel Felipe 22.5 R RHP 2022 35+ 56 Carlos Garcia 21.3 A+ RHP 2023 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 1B 2B SS 3B OF LF CF RF LHP RHP 80 FV Prospects 1. Wander Franco, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 19.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / R FV 80 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 60/80 55/60 45/60 60/60 50/55 60/60 This is the first 80 FV prospect of the Future Value era at FanGraphs, the best prospect on the planet, and the best I’ve evaluated during my tenure here. What does it take to draw such significant expectations? Let’s first examine the statistical case. Franco has played 175 career games, all at levels well above what is typical for a player his age (he doesn’t turn 19 until March). During those games, he’s hit .336/.405/.523 with 71 extra-base hits, 20 steals, and more walks than strikeouts. In fact, across two levels in 2019, Low- and Hi-A, Franco not only walked more than he struck out, but walked about twice as much. He has one of the lowest swinging strike rates in the entire minor leagues, and it’s possible the power hasn’t fully actualized yet because Franco still hits the ball on the ground a lot (48% last year). How about the TrackMan data? Franco’s exit velos and hard hit rate are both above big league average, which, again, is ridiculous for a teenager who’s playing against competition four and a half years older than he is in the Florida State League. Of course, the visual baseball evaluation is also incredible. Franco had one of the best BP sessions at the Futures Game (his was better than Jo Adell, Nolan Jones, and everyone not named Royce Lewis) and the best infield. His hands are a powder keg, accelerating to the point where he can do huge damage, and he doesn’t need mechanical length to get there. This is true from both sides of the plate; Franco can’t be thwarted by turning him around and forcing him to hit from a weaker side. He might not ever produce big home run totals without a swing change, but it’d be ridiculous to alter this guy’s swing considering how elite his performance has been. A scouting director once told me, “Elite players are elite all the time,” and that has been true of Franco since he was a young teen. He’s been a force of nature offensively, he plays a premium defensive position very well, and my degree of confidence in his ability to do both in perpetuity is high because that’s all Franco has ever done. 60 FV Prospects 2. Brendan McKay, LHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Louisville (TBR) Age 24.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 212 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 55/55 55/55 50/55 50/55 55/70 91-95 / 96 McKay was 1.1 innings shy of graduating off of prospect lists entirely this year, which means there is as much hard data on him as it’s possible to have when deciding how to evaluate him before he exits my scope. He was unusually homer-prone during his big league stretch, something that has never been an issue before even with middling velocity, because McKay’s command is so good. I think it’s a small sample blip that will regress over more innings, though I did have folks from analytically-inclined teams suggest that I slide McKay down on my overall rankings when I circulated the list for feedback. His fastball only sits 90-94 and touches 96, which is pretty average, but McKay keeps it away from the middle of the zone where it can really be hammered and often ties hitters up with it because he locates so well; his swinging strike rate on the heater was close to 17% in the minors, so I think it’ll play. His cutter command is arguably even better, and he peppers the glove side of the plate with it at will. Changeup usage was scarce in his big league sample but I think it will be one of the focal points of his repertoire, perhaps usurping the curveball, which has a stronger visual evaluation than it does if you look at the spin data. It’s a repertoire/command profile similar to a lot of good lefties (Hyun-Jin Ryu, Mike Minor, Cole Hamels), though most of them are more reliant on the cambio than McKay has been to this point. He may not have the rate stats of the other arms in the 60 FV tier, but I expect he’ll make up for all of that with volume because of how efficiently he works. 55 FV Prospects 3. Vidal Brujan, 2B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 22.1 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr S / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/65 45/50 30/45 65/65 55/70 50/50 This is my favorite player in the minors, a top-of-the-scale athlete who is sneaky strong despite his height and one of the most electric, in-the-box rotators in all of the minor leagues. He split 2019 between Hi- and Double-A and his walk rate took a bit of a hit at those levels, but otherwise, his on-paper performance was strong, well above league averages (.277/.346/.389 with 48 bags in 61 attempts, and 28 extra-base hits in 100 games). His exit velo data is not great, but it was instructive to watch Brujan in the Fall League next to several other players with similar statistical and defensive profiles who aren’t nearly as athletic or as physically projectable as he is. There were lots of other narrowly built infielders of similar age who simply don’t have Brujan’s musculature (you can see his lats through his jersey) or explosiveness. I think there’s room for mass even though Brujan is short, and that he’ll continue to harness his hellacious cut, which, based on his contact rates, he already has abnormal control over. I watched Brujan swing so hard that he’d corkscrew himself to the ground, only to pop back up like a Russian folk dancer. There are scouts who think he can play shortstop, but I think the arm is a little light for that and that instead, he’ll be a plus-plus defender at second base or perhaps play a multi-positional, up-the-middle role. You have to bet on him growing into more pop to get there, but I think Brujan’s going to be a star. 50 FV Prospects 4. Josh Lowe, CF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Pope HS (GA) (TBR) Age 22.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 60/60 40/45 60/60 40/45 60/60 Things may finally be starting to gel for Lowe, who has had tantalizing tools since high school. He was a power/speed prep bat without a clear position, but most of the amateur half of the industry assumed he’d be able to play center field if not shortstop or third base, where he played in high school. He quickly moved to the outfield and has played almost exclusively in center since 2017. He isn’t great there, but most of Lowe’s other abilities have been slow to develop, so it’s possible the feel for the position will come eventually. For instance, Lowe has power but has been strikeout prone since his prep days. But once he started playing pro games and generating data, it became clear that, despite the whiffs, he had a great idea of the strike zone. The raw power didn’t really show up in games until Lowe’s batted ball profile began to shift in 2018. His groundball rates were in the mid-40% range until that year but slowly began shifting downward, then Lowe had a breakout statistical 2019 as a 21-year-old at Double-A. He’s always going to strike out, but he’s also probably going to keep walking a lot, especially now that the power is a real threat. It’s pretty important that he stay in center field to take some pressure off of the hit tool. If he can do that, he’ll be an everyday player. 5. Brent Honeywell, RHP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Walters State JC (TN) (TBR) Age 25.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops 60/60 50/55 60/65 55/55 45/50 45/55 92-94 / 97 Honeywell has had a myriad of injury issues over the last couple of years. He had a TJ, then a nerve issue during rehab, then fractured his elbow in the bullpen just after last year’s draft. The sequence of events that has befallen Honeywell is relatively unprecedented, and while he was a 55 or 60 FV arm at peak, his future is now in doubt. And that’s a bummer, because he’s a lot of fun to watch pitch. A creative sequencer, Honeywell’s deep, unique repertoire is unlike any other pitcher in the minors. Though his fastball touches 98, his stuff is so diverse that he never has to pitch off of it. He can lob his curveball in for strikes, induce weak contact early in counts by throwing a cutter when hitters are sitting fastball, and he’ll double and triple up on the changeup. What you see listed in Honeywell’s tool grades as a splitter is actually a screwball. It wobbles home in the 79-82 mph range, while his true changeup is usually a little harder than that. The screwgie is more than a gimmick and can miss bats, though it’s best in moderation because it’s a little easier to identify out of his hand, and hitters are able to recognize it after seeing it multiple times in the same at-bat. 6. Xavier Edwards, 2B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from North Broward Prep HS (FL) (SDP) Age 20.6 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/60 40/40 20/30 80/80 50/55 45/45 The Rays plan to deploy Edwards as a multi-positional catalyst, a speedy, Chone Figgins-style player. His exit velos are arguably concerningly low. But his contact rates and track record of hitting (X was a staple on the travel ball circuit for several years and might have been the most game-ready high schooler in his draft year) combined with his ability to play lots of different positions, including the ones in the middle of the diamond, make him a relatively high-probability big league contributor. Even sources from very analytically-inclined teams thought he deserved strong placement on this list, a sign that exit velo stuff is less meaningful right now than some fear. 7. Randy Arozarena, CF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (STL) Age 25.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/55 45/45 35/40 55/60 60/55 55/55 Kiley and I were sourcing the Cardinals list as the Libby/Arozarena/Martínez deal went down, and everyone we spoke with has Arozarena on either side of the 45/50 FV line. He does have some tweener traits and it’s possible his role in Tampa Bay, where everyone is in some sort of timeshare but is also put in positions where they can succeed, will impact whether or not 50’ing him is the correct call. His quality of contact is very good, he’s a plus corner outfielder who can pass in center field, and he’s a great baserunner, as well as an intense, high-effort player who pro scouts love watching — Arozarena once turned a routine pop-up into a triple because he sprinted full-tilt out of the box while the infielders miscommunicated. 8. Shane Baz, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Concordia Lutheran HS (TX) (PIT) Age 20.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 60/70 55/60 40/50 55/60 40/45 92-96 / 100 It’s highly likely that Baz moves to the bullpen, where his unusually deep pitch mix could enable him to pitch multiple innings, though it’s also possible the pitch mix gets whittled down and he works in single-inning relief. He pitched as a starter during the regular season but was bumping 100 out of the bullpen in the Fall League. The future fastball grade reflects the anticipated move. 45 FV Prospects 9. Taylor Walls, SS Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Florida State (TBR) Age 23.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/60 40/40 35/40 50/50 50/55 50/50 All of Walls’ rather vanilla physical skills are made better by his elite baseball feel and instincts, especially on defense. While the amateur side lacked conviction in his defensive fit at shortstop, the pro side thinks Walls’ first step, internal clock, and situational awareness, combined with suitable foot speed, actions, and arm strength, not only make him viable at short, but actually quite good. Offensively, Walls is a switch-hitter with great feel for the strike zone and for squaring balls all over it. He’s kinda stiff and really doesn’t have much power, instead punching a lot of liner singles over the heads of infielders. It’s not a sexy skillset but it is a great general profile — a switch-hitting shortstop with on base skills — with enough physical tools to compete with big leaguers. He’s a 2020 Pick to Click who will likely be on next year’s top 100 as a major league-ready, everyday player. 10. Shane McClanahan, LHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from USF (TBR) Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 65/65 55/60 45/50 40/45 93-97 / 100 Throughout his late high school and early college (which was paused by a Tommy John) careers, McClanahan’s stuff climbed from the mid-80s to the mid-90s. In the first start of his draft year, he hit 100 mph and flashed above average secondary stuff, which put him among the draft’s top prospects right out of the gate. But things started to unravel from there. A finger injury, bad weather, fluctuating stuff, frustrating control, and questions about his maturity all contributed to a draft-day tumble to pick No. 31 and the hometown Rays. A year later, those concerns seem trite. A more consistent, balanced delivery enabled McClanahan to throw more strikes and he absolutely carved A-ball. He got especially hot over a nine-game stretch at Hi-A, where he walked just eight over 49 innings. I still have McClanahan evaluated as a reliever. These are improvements compared to what McClanahan was doing later in 2018, yes, but I still think the command and third pitch fall short of what’s acceptable for a starter. But I also think the fastball/breaking ball combo fits like a glove in a high-leverage relief role. 11. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, LF (TBR) Age 28.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 214 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 55/55 60/60 55/55 30/30 40/40 50/50 The six year window I consider when evaluating prospects warps how I handle older, rookie-eligible players like Tsutsugo. He’ll undoubtedly hit some sort of decline phase during that window, but he’s also someone our readers would like to know about. I have him here purely with the role in mind, which I think is the bigger half of the platoon LF/DH, a 1.5 to 2 WAR sort of player during the life of his deal. Tsutsugo was a .282/.382/.528 career hitter in Japan, averaged 34 homers over his last four years there, and had a 13% career walk rate in NPB. He has all-fields power created by a swing I’ve compared to Eddie Rosario’s. Multiple sources have confirmed to me that Tsutsugo averaged an exit velocity of 92 mph (108 mph max) last year in Japan, which would rank among the top 30 big leaguers, but of course the level and type of pitching he’ll see now is going to be different. Kaz Matsui and Kosuke Fukudome each had comparable peak power numbers before they came over but Matsui didn’t have Tsutsugo’s ball/strike recognition, and Fukudome was a little bit older and didn’t have this kind of physicality. In addition to regular DH duty, Tsutsugo seems like an obvious platoon partner for Hunter Renfroe in one of the two corner outfield spots. The Rays gave him some time at third base this spring, but he didn’t look great there and he hasn’t played the infield regularly since 2014; the notes I have from pro/international scouts and executives from before he signed indicate that he’s not athletically capable of handling the hot corner. Yandy Díaz isn’t good there either (he used to be, but he’s just too big and stiff now), but still played third situationally, so perhaps Tsutsugo can be hidden there, even if it’s just for a few innings at a time. 12. Greg Jones, SS Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from UNC Wilmington (TBR) Age 22.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 50/55 30/50 70/70 40/45 55/55 Teams loved Jones’ tools coming out of high school, but he was very raw as a hitter, especially for someone as old as he was relative to his high school senior peers. After a strikeout-heavy freshman year in Wilmington, Jones cut his whiff total nearly in half as a draft-eligible sophomore. He also improved enough defensively to keep the shortstop projection alive. It was enough for him to be in teams’ mix in the comp round zip code, and he was drafted 31st overall by the Rays. A year and a half later, Jones remains the same sort of player. He struggled during Extended, but had a strong summer in the Penn League, a pretty conservative assignment. Jones has everyday outs. Even if he doesn’t stay at short, he’s going to play up the middle, and so long as he’s getting to the power he has a shot to play everyday. I think there’s still-to-come hit tool growth, enough that the in-game power manifests. 13. Joe Ryan, RHP Drafted: 7th Round, 2018 from Cal State Stanislaus (TBR) Age 23.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 60/60 50/50 45/50 45/45 50/60 90-94 / 96 Ryan dominated Midwest League hitters in April, then was quickly moved to Hi-A Port Charlotte, where he continued to mow through Florida State League hitters, striking out 35% of them during his first dozen appearances. He did most of his damage with the fastball, which is puzzling because Ryan’s heater doesn’t seem remarkable in any way, even in light of the pitch data I’ve sourced. He’ll touch 96, but sits mostly 90-94 with average underlying components like spin, z-break, and extension. Despite that, Ryan is getting a lot of swinging strikes in the zone with his fastball. Like, a lot, a lot. His arm stroke is curt, and the ball just kind of jumps on hitters, so perhaps that’s contributing to its effectiveness, but it’s not such a unique look as to satisfactorily explain this level of dominance. The supporting cast — a low-70s rainbow curveball, the occasional cutter or changeup — is only okay, so vanilla that Ryan just pumps his fastball in, pitch after pitch. He used it 73% of the time last year. There’s no precedent for that level of usage among big league starters. Based on the way the fastball plays (the whiff rates indicate it’s an elite pitch, but based on how big league hitters dealt with it this spring, I have a 60 on it) and Ryan’s command, I have him in as a strike-throwing No. 4/5 starter. 14. Alejandro Pie, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 18.1 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 45/60 20/50 60/55 40/50 55/60 Pie, who ranked 17th on our 2018 July 2 Board, now looks like top 100 prospect Oneil Cruz did at the same age; endless limbs on an NBA wing player’s frame, uncommon athleticism and body control for his size, uncapped power projection, and much more intrigue than there is certainty about any aspect of the profile. It’s not even clear whether Pie is going to stay on the infield. He runs well enough that center field is a possibility if his actions don’t improve, and he has the arm to play short or third if they do. Even if Pie tumbles down the defensive spectrum, it likely means he’s grown into substantial raw power, enough to profile at any position. His current tool grade projections indicate what I think things will look like if his frame develops such that it allows him to stay at shortstop, but I think it’s going to take a long time before Pie’s skillset truly comes into focus. 15. Ronaldo Hernandez, C Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Colombia (TBR) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 60/60 40/50 30/30 40/45 70/70 If you squint and look at Hernandez’s skillset from a certain angle, it looks much like Gary Sánchez‘s did at the same stage. He has big power and breathtaking arm strength, but there are questions about the approach (which might impede the power) and his defensive ability, specifically the receiving. After three straight years of big time slugging performance, Hernandez’s output dipped in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Some of this was due to the hitting environment; some of it was due to more advanced pitchers understanding how to attack him to limit damage. Hernandez’s swing cuts down through the typical hitting zone and his power is out in front when his swing starts to lift, which makes his point of impact of paramount importance to his power production. There are mixed opinions as to whether this is correctable. While what matters for catchers defensively may soon change, the combo of approach and swing issues have caused me to become more tepid on Hernandez’s offensive future. He has everyday tools but needs a good bit of developmental love to get there. 16. JJ Goss, RHP Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Cypress Ranch HS (TX) (TBR) Age 19.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/50 45/55 40/50 91-94 / 96 In a draft demographic filled with wide-shouldered frames and traditional-looking deliveries, Goss stood apart from his 2019 prep pitching peers in many ways. He has a narrow, long-torso’ed frame, a flatter lower half, and a little bit of cross-bodied action to a delivery that resembles Luis Patiño’s from a timing and sequencing standpoint. Goss’ fastball has tough-to-square arm side tail created by his three-quarters arm slot, and its movement pairs well with his fairly advanced changeup, which seemed to evolve into a firm, mid-80s split once he was in pro ball. He has worked with two breaking balls in the past, both of which reside in the low-80s and have enough depth and movement to be considered future average pitches in a vacuum, but they lack raw spin and were consolidated after he signed. They may play better against righties if Goss’ delivery proves tough for them to parse. There’s some body/delivery relief risk perception throughout the industry — some of which is delivery xenophobia, some of which is injury-related, though I think the mix and command are fine — but otherwise Goss has fourth starter talent. 17. Tyler Frank, 2B Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Florida Atlantic (TBR) Age 23.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 45/45 30/40 50/50 45/50 45/45 Frank was first seen by most scouts as a utility player on college Team USA the summer before he was draft eligible. The setting in which you scout a player can do wonders, and the Team USA look didn’t give Frank much of a chance to show what he could do. He didn’t stand out much, playing all over the field and making contact, but lacking impact tools. He shined much brighter in the spring for Florida Atlantic, with 13 homers and an OPS just shy of 1.000 while playing a passable shortstop. Scouts who saw Frank in pro ball after the Rays popped him in the second round see a slightly lesser version of Taylor Walls, another under-tooled Rays middle infielder with lots of feel. Frank is seen as more of a second baseman going forward and his 45 raw power, 50 speed, and 50 defense still aren’t loud, but his ability to hit, take a good at-bat, and have advanced feel for the game give him the look of a potential low-end regular who could move quickly through the minors. He missed almost all of 2019 with a left shoulder strain. 40+ FV Prospects 18. Seth Johnson, RHP Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Campbell (TBR) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/60 45/50 40/45 45/55 91-95 / 98 It’s incredible how quickly Johnson became a high-end draft prospect. Originally a junior college infielder, Johnson began dabbling with pitching during his sophomore season at Louisburg College, when he threw just six innings. Just a few months later, during Campbell’s fall practices, his fastball touched the mid-90s and he flashed a plus breaking ball, instantly making him a high-priority look for the following spring. His stock and performance peaked in late-March, then dipped closer to the draft when he failed to get through five or more innings in five of his last eight starts. He was sitting 91-95 in 30-pitch outings after he signed, and his slider spin rate spiked once the Rays got hold of him. The pre-draft dip leaves room for questions about his season-long durability, but Johnson was still so new to pitching that expecting him to hold his stuff for five or more innings all spring would have been silly. Assuming that comes (his is a longer arm action, but Johnson is a plus athlete and I think he can repeat it), he has No. 4 starter ceiling. He’ll likely rely on two distinct breaking balls as his secondary weapons (a mid-80s slider, a mid-70s curve) since the longer arm action isn’t typically friendly for change development. 19. Peter Fairbanks, RHP Drafted: 9th Round, 2015 from Missouri (TEX) Age 26.3 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 80/80 60/60 35/40 95-98 / 99 Fairbanks has elite, late-inning stuff that arrived after he returned from the second of two Tommy Johns and shifted to the bullpen in 2019, a move that helped enable a fastball bump from the 92-94 range to 95-98, touching 100. That fastball has big carry/rise thanks to its spin rate (nearly 2500 rpm) and spin axis; it backspins due to Fairbanks’ slot, and his slider has vertical, curveball-shaped break but rests in the upper-80s and low-90s. This is an impact relief piece who is ready right now, though age and Fairbanks’ injury history round the FV down a bit. 20. Nick Schnell, CF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Roncalli HS (IN) (TBR) Age 20.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 55/60 35/55 60/60 40/50 60/60 Schnell was a cold-weather high school hitter who went bonkers during his senior year, especially during the varsity postseason, which was late in the spring and closer to the draft when high-level scouts were coming in for looks. Based on his physical tools — chiefly, the power and straight-line speed — and body projection, Schnell has big upside. He’s shown opposite field thump, which impresses some scouts though others argue his inside-out contact spray indicates a swing flaw. To possess premium bat speed and face pitching in the 80s but still inside-out home runs suggests that Schnell has been late on subpar stuff, and his deep hand load, which helps create the power, also creates a ton of length back to the ball. It’s still too early to say definitively that this is a problem, in part because Schnell hasn’t played many pro games yet due to injuries, which he has a history of (a broken bone in his right wrist in 2018, minor surgery on his right knee in April of 2019 to correct an ailment he described as stemming from wear and tear). He’s a high-variance corner outfield power projection prospect. 21. Kevin Padlo, 3B Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from Murrieta Valley HS (CA) (COL) Age 23.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/40 60/60 45/50 40/40 45/45 50/50 After undergoing some swing alterations — there have been a few changes to how open Padlo’s stance is and how big his leg kick is — and gutting through a terrible April and May, Padlo became a pull and lift machine for the final few months of the season. It’s a one-note approach that might be pitched around effectively at the big league level, but to this point Padlo has shown to be selective enough to wait for pitches he can yank that way. His slugging performance is up over what’s realistic at the big league level but there is relevant big league power output now. I think Padlo is too heavy-footed to play third base every day but industry opinions are mixed. I think he’s ticketed for a four corner platoon role of some sort, similar to the one Rays fans have seen Yandy Díaz occupy. 22. Abiezel Ramirez, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 20.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 50/55 30/45 60/60 40/50 60/60 Two years in the DSL means Ramirez’s 40-man timeline is compressed, and that’s especially true now that the spread of COVID-19 has shortened the 2020 season, Ramirez’s last before being Rule 5 eligible. Based on his physicality (Ramirez is a curvaceous, José Ramírez type scaled up to 5-foot-11) and relatively advanced feel to hit, Abiezel was a candidate to be pushed quickly this year to stress test the bat. Ramirez has a handsy, powerful swing that produces whizzing line drives from the left side of the plate. His arm strength fits on the left side of the infield and gives him a shot to stay at short. Barring a swing change or feel for lift that develops naturally as he matures, this is likely to be more of a doubles-oriented power profile, but the bat-to-ball skills may carry him to an everyday infield role even if there’s no change there. 40 FV Prospects 23. Ford Proctor, SS Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Rice (TBR) Age 23.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/60 40/40 30/40 45/45 50/50 50/50 It’s prudent to be skeptical of Proctor’s 2019 Low-A statline because of his age, and he doesn’t have the overt physical tools easy to scout in a short look, but he has a carrying tool in his lefty stick and has a shot to stick at shortstop. He’s done nothing but hit dating back to his freshman year at Rice — Proctor is a .300/.392/.420 hitter, combined college and pro — and I’m confident he’s a high-contact and OBP middle infielder, which, even without impact power, is still a big league role player. 24. Riley O’Brien, RHP Drafted: 8th Round, 2017 from Idaho (TBR) Age 25.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 55/60 45/50 40/50 92-95 / 97 O’Brien’s velocity has climbed each of the last two years and now rests comfortably in the mid-90s, with an extra tick of perceived velo due to extension. He’s a classic small-school late bloomer with a good frame and athletic delivery. O’Brien also has an abnormally firm, sinking, upper-80s changeup, and a power, low-80s curveball, both of which look like impact pitches at times. It’s starter stuff, and perhaps more traditional starter’s control will develop late, much like O’Brien’s stuff has. 25. Moises Gomez, RF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (TBR) Age 21.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 60/60 40/55 50/40 45/50 55/55 I’m staying on Gomez despite a) his precipitous 2019 downtick in production and b) his terrifying, swing-happy, corner-only profile. He has nautical mile power and sneaky good plate coverage that’s masked by how often he chases. Despite his maxed frame (he began his pro career as a speedy center field prospect but now has a chonky corner build), Gomez is an athletic swinger who can punish pitches out away from him to center and right-center field, and can also turn on stuff on the inner half and send it skyward. He has heart-of-the-order talent that’s currently at the mercy of an immature approach, so callow that he was passed over in last year’s Rule 5. He’s a high-variance player at the mercy of his own decision-making. 26. Jhon Diaz, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 17.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 40/45 20/40 55/55 45/50 55/55 The Yankees’ all-in pursuit of Jasson Dominguez enabled the Rays to swoop in and offer Diaz more money than New York could trade for in pool space; Tampa inked him for $1.5 million. Diaz has more present skill than he does physical projection, atypical for the July 2 market. There are teams that considered him a tweener fourth outfield type, but I think he’s just short, not small, and has a bunch of above-average tools and good baseball instincts. His path to an everyday role involves him staying in center field and making a lot of contact. If he falls short at either, then we’re talking about a platoon/fourth outfielder type. 27. Lucius Fox, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Bahamas (SFG) Age 22.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 40/40 30/30 60/60 45/50 55/55 Somehow, despite his relative lack of power, the most consistent aspect of Fox’s performance has been on the offensive end of things. As reports of the quality of his defense have waxed and waned over the last three years, he’s somehow posted an above-average offensive line for each of the last three affiliates at which he’s spent most of the season. That includes a 104 wRC+ in a depressed 2019 Southern League, where the average hitter’s line was .243/.318/.366. Despite major league-average exit velocities, Fox’s contact quality isn’t great, and he has an OBP-driven offensive profile thanks to his keen eye for the zone. He’d need to be a plus shortstop defender to profile as a low-end regular, and while he has looked like it at times, it hasn’t been consistent, and the Rays began moving him all over the infield late last year. As a switch-hitter who’s better from the right side (his numbers have been much better as a righty bat the last couple years), I think Fox will play some sort of multi-positional, shorter half of a platoon role while also pinch running. If you think he’s a low-end regular at short, then he’s a 45 FV, but I think it’ll be hard for him to be more than a 1-WAR role player without any impact in the bat. 28. Drew Strotman, RHP Drafted: 4th Round, 2017 from St. Mary’s (TBR) Age 23.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 50/55 50/55 45/50 45/50 90-94 / 95 In many ways, the first half of Strotman’s 2018 season was just like that of Phillies righty Spencer Howard. Like Howard, Strotman mostly pitched out of the bullpen at a second tier California college and only began starting full-time in 2018. He was probably slightly underscouted as an amateur, and definitely underdeveloped. For a month and a half of 2018, he showed mid-rotation stuff, then blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John. His rehab was slow and Strotman was 90-93 when he returned, then 91-95 with average secondary stuff late in the Fall League. He looked like a No. 4 starter before the injury (he was 92-97 at that point) and now looks like a backend arm, but based on how his stuff was trending in the Fall, he might be very relevant later this year. 29. John Doxakis, LHP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Texas A&M (TBR) Age 21.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 50/55 50/55 45/60 88-92 / 93 Doxakis works 88-92 with solid average stuff as a pitchability lefty who can eat innings. His slider has great whiff rates in the zone, which gives him a high floor as a reliever, possibly a multi-inning one, who can work through a lineup with heavy use of his breaking stuff. The shape of his fastball should theoretically pair well with a changeup, but Doxakis sometimes lacks feel for his change, a firm, mid-80s offering that has very little spin and has a chance to be an impact pitch. He’s a backed starter if that pitch develops. 30. Michael Perez, C Drafted: 5th Round, 2011 from Colegio Vocacional Para Adultos HS (PR) (ARI) Age 27.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/50 45/45 30/35 40/40 45/50 60/60 I expect Perez will win the Rays backup catching job if and when we have a baseball season, and he would have graduated from this list last year had he not missed a lot of time rehabbing a hamstring strain. He is an athletic catcher with a plus arm, average receiving skills, and some feel to hit. After struggling to perform with the bat during the first several years of his career, Perez has now had three straight seasons of at least league-average offensive performance at Double- and Triple-A. He has a pull-and-lift style of hitting, but not enough raw power to optimize that kind of approach. He’s a safe bet to be a quality backup and has a non-zero chance to hit a little more than I expect and end up a low-end regular. 31. Anthony Banda, LHP Drafted: 10th Round, 2012 from San Jacinto JC (TX) (MIL) Age 26.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 50/50 40/40 55/55 40/45 92-95 / 97 It’s been a long and winding road for Banda, who has been traded twice — Milwaukee sent him and Mitch Haniger to Arizona for Gerardo Parra in 2014, and then in 2018, Banda was part of the massive, three-team trade involving Steven Souza and Brandon Drury, among others — and finally looked like he’d get a long-term big league look in 2018. He was 10 innings shy of exhausting rookie eligibility when he tore his UCL and had Tommy John in early June, which shelved him until the very end of the 2019 season. He’s still a big league arm for me, probably a fastball/changeup reliever, but he had No. 4 starter stuff when he was healthy. His age and lack of roster flexibility might force his role to be whatever Banda is capable of handling immediately upon baseball’s return. 32. Curtis Mead, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Australia (PHI) Age 19.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 45/55 20/50 45/40 40/50 50/50 Mead, a 19-year-old Australian infielder, is an interesting developmental project for the Rays, who acquired him from Philadelphia for 40-man crunch reliever Cristopher Sanchez. Mead signed with just a few weeks left on the 2017 July 2 calendar and only played four games during the summer of 2018 before picking up at-bats during instructional league. While my scout and front office sources describe him as being raw, Mead performed surprisingly well — .285/.351/.462 with a 13% strikeout rate — against what was almost certainly the best pitching he’d ever seen. Rookie-level stats aren’t a reliable means of evaluation on their own, but in this case, they underscore a surprising level of competence given Mead’s inexperience. The international and pro scouting sources I tapped mentioned Mead’s very projectable, 6-foot-2 frame first. He has power projection because of the frame and a fairly advanced hit tool given his background. He played shortstop as an amateur in Australia and all over the infield in 2019. Based purely on how he looks right now, Mead projects as a corner outfielder, but there may be more room for growth — better footwork and actions — as he accrues reps. 33. Michael Plassmeyer, LHP Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Missouri (SEA) Age 23.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 192 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 50/50 50/55 55/70 87-91 / 93 Another Day 2 college pitcher quickly flipped by the Mariners, Plassmeyer (who was part of the Mallex Smith/Mike Zunino deal) spent most of his first full pro season at Hi-A, where he walked just 16 hitters in 101.2 innings. Like many of the lefty pitchers the Rays seem to like for the org’s change of pace, bulk relief role, Plassmeyer’s fastball has a lot of lateral action because of his lower slot. He works his fastball in on righties (it has tough angle) and sometimes tails it off the plate away from them for swinging strikes. He can back foot his breaking ball consistently and his changeup has sufficient fade to miss bats. This is an elite pitchability lefty with very average stuff who I think ends up in the Yarbrough role. 34. Tristan Gray, 1B Drafted: 13th Round, 2017 from Rice (PIT) Age 24.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/50 45/45 40/45 40/40 45/50 50/50 Like Ford Proctor a few spots higher on this list, Gray was a three-year starter at Rice as a middle infielder and likely projects as a utility guy at the next level, though Gray is more of a shift-aided infielder who fits best at first base and can moonlight at others rather than a guy who’s primarily a middle infield fit. To contrast with Proctor, Gray was a lankier-framed prospect who has slowly filled out and added noticeable loft to his swing last year, so there’s more impact with the bat than there is with Proctor. He’s a lefty infield platoon type similar to 2019 Rule 5 pick Vimael Machin. 35. Tanner Dodson, RHP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Cal (TBR) Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 40/40 30/30 60/60 40/45 80/80 Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 55/60 45/50 40/45 91-95 / 97 The addition of a 26th man to active rosters makes it less likely that someone like Dodson sees actual time as an outfielder, as teams now have the roster room to house someone who is both better at the things Dodson does as a positional player (he switch-hits, has contact feel from the left side, and throws and runs well) and can also do something else. I think it’s more likely he ends up a two-pitch reliever who only plays the field or hits in case of emergency. Three-batter minimums make obsolete the scenario where Dodson faces a hitter then plays center for a hitter or two before re-entering the game. 36. Joel Peguero, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 22.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 70/70 55/60 35/40 93-97 / 98 Peguero is a late-blooming power arm who took a step forward stuff-wise in 2018, then continued to pitch effectively out of Bowling Green’s bullpen in 2019, typically in two-inning outings. It’s a burgeoning, two-pitch relief profile. 37. Resly Linares, LHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 22.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 55/60 45/55 45/55 90-93 / 95 Linares made it through just six 2019 innings before he blew out and needed Tommy John. He’s a low-slot lefty with a great breaking ball and a skinny frame that hasn’t filled out very much. His surgery was early enough that he’s likely to be back sometime in 2020, assuming baseball is. Where his velo is coming out of rehab will dictate if he moves up or down this list. 35+ FV Prospects 38. Brian O’Grady, CF Drafted: 8th Round, 2014 from Rutgers (CIN) Age 27.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/35 55/55 50/50 55/55 45/45 55/55 O’Grady is an older prospect who wasn’t given an opportunity to supplant Billy Hamilton in Cincinnati and found his way to the Rays via a small trade for cash or a PTBNL. I think he has big league tools. His 2019 power output was aided by the Triple-A ball but he has above-average raw power and straightline speed. He’s an interesting 1B/OF (including center) lefty-hitting bench piece. 39. Esteban Quiroz, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Mexico (BOS) Age 28.1 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 55/55 45/45 35/40 40/40 40/40 45/45 Quiroz was Team Mexico’s leadoff hitter during the 2017 WBC (he hit two homers and a double in six at-bats) and spent 2015-’17 crushing the Mexican League. He signed with Boston in November 2017, and was hot the following April at Double-A, but then missed three and a half months with an abdominal strain. He only played in 24 games at Double-A, then had 62 extra plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League, where he played well and was seen by the entire pro scouting community. San Diego traded a 40-man crunch relief arm to Boston for Quiroz, then later flipped him to Tampa Bay as part of the Tommy Pham deal. This is a very Rays sort of prospect. He has deft, all-fields contact ability and can (kind of) play an up-the-middle position. Quiroz presents rare 40-man flexibility because he’s arguably ready to contribute to a big league lineup right now, but because of how recently he signed, he doesn’t have to occupy a 40-man spot until this December. He can act as viable upper-level depth without occupying a 40-man spot. He lacks the defensive versatility to play a long term bench role but it woudln’t surprise me if he ended up being a low-end second base regular for someone for a couple seasons. 40. Graeme Stinson, LHP Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from Duke (TBR) Age 22.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/60 60/70 40/40 35/45 93-95 / 98 At one point, Stinson had the nastiest two-pitch combo in his draft class. As a sophomore mostly-reliever at Duke and during the following summer, he worked with two 70-grade pitches in his mid-90s heater and 3000 rpm slider. The following spring, Stinson was set to get his first extended look in the rotation but his velocity was mostly in the 80s without a clear reason. He was quickly shut down for the remainder of the college season, though specifics regarding the injury were not divulged at the time; sources have indicated to FanGraphs it was a nerve issue that may not require surgery. Stinson made just one appearance after he signed and sat 88-90. He has high-leverage relief potential with good health. 41. Sandy Gaston, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Cuba (TBR) Age 18.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/65 45/50 45/50 30/45 93-96 / 97 Gaston was a 15-year-old Cuban defector who, right around his 16th birthday, hit 100 mph while working out for teams. That nearly unprecedented velocity for his age obviously garnered a lot of attention in the scouting community, though Gaston often had 20 control when he scraped triple digits. He also isn’t classically projectable — his velocity is already at the top of the scale and he has a maturely-built frame at 6-foot, but he’s done some arm slot and arm action tinkering over the last few years that has affected his control and command. So while Gaston may get stronger as he physically matures, what’s more important is the projection of his feel for pitching, which appears to be more natural at a three-quarters arm slot with velocity more in the mid-90s, where his arm action is also more naturally online, than the higher slot where he was throwing harder and wilder. Gaston’s best pitching performance was as the main event on the mound at the Víctor Víctor Mesa workout in Marlins Park, where the better version of his arm slot, arm action, and control was first seen by a large scouting audience. It didn’t hold. Gaston walked a batter per inning in his first pro season while sitting in the 93-97 range with the fastball. He’s a teenage relief prospect at this point. 42. Jelfry Marte, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 19.0 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/50 40/50 20/40 65/65 50/60 60/60 Marte originally signed with the Twins for $3 million as one of the top position players in the 2017 July 2nd class. That deal was voided over concerns about Marte’s vision, but they weren’t as strong as they were for the last prospect who went through a situation like this, Dominican power-hitting right fielder Wagner Mateo. Mateo signed for $3.1 million with St. Louis in 2009, and after his deal was voided, signed with Arizona for $512,000 almost a year later. He played parts of four seasons before being released by the D-backs, having only appeared in 10 games in a full-season league, with a career .660 OPS. Marte ended up signing with Tampa Bay less than a month after his deal was voided, this time for $820,000; Tampa Bay saw his vision as a correctable issue. Early looks in pro ball (Marte’s first fall instructs) were positive, but his performance since then has been concerningly bad. The eyeball reports of the physical talent, defense, and speed are still strong, but Marte officially has the contact red flags you’d expect someone with vision issues to exhibit. 43. Niko Hulsizer, LF Drafted: 18th Round, 2018 from Morehead State (LAD) Age 23.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 70/70 45/55 45/40 40/40 45/45 The yoked Pennsylvanian became notable when he hit 27 homers as a sophomore at Morehead, but he became legendary when one of them left Choccolocco Park (the Ohio Valley Conference’s tournament site) and hit a fire engine parked well beyond the outfield fence. Hulsizer had a down junior year amid a broken hand but has been mashing since he’s been in pro ball, albeit a level or two below what is typical for prospects his age. He’s a potential three-true-outcomes corner masher. 44. Cal Stevenson, CF Drafted: 10th Round, 2018 from Arizona (TOR) Age 23.5 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/60 35/35 30/30 60/60 40/40 40/40 Stevenson is relatively positionless but he has great contact and on-base skills. His numbers are likely inflated due to his age relative to the level, but the industry undervalued him during his draft year because of injury, so it’s possible we’re seeing something closer to the real Stevenson now. He’s already been traded twice (from Toronto to Houston, then Houston to Tampa Bay), so clearly teams are interested in him. I think he’s a fourth outfield prospect but he’s performing like a table-setting leadoff hitter. 45. Colby White, RHP Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Mississippi State (TBR) Age 21.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Sits/Tops 55/60 50/55 92-95 / 97 White is a power relief prospect with a violent delivery. He spent two years at Pearl River Community College, then transferred to Mississippi State, where he dominated, striking out nearly two batters per inning. He’s of the vertical fastball/breaking ball variety. 46. Audry Lugo, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 21.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/55 55/60 40/45 40/50 92-94 / 96 A short, athletic righty with a high arm slot, Lugo pairs a mid-90s fastball and power curveball in a two-pitch relief profile. Of all the hard-throwing arms in this tier of the system, Lugo has the best combination of stuff and athleticism. 47. Neraldo Catalina, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (NYM) Age 19.7 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 202 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 60/70 45/55 30/40 93-96 / 97 Acquired as the PTBNL in the Wilmer Font trade, Catalina is a huge-framed teenage righty up to 97. He has some Domingo Acevedo flavor to the delivery and a lower arm slot, so he’s likely a reliever. 48. Aneudy Cortorreal, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 20.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 65/70 40/50 40/45 40/45 30/40 93-97 / 99 Like Catalina, Cortorreal is a big-bodied, arm strength developmental project whose heater took a leap when he reconfigured his physical conditioning heading into 2019. 49. Logan Driscoll, C Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from George Mason (SDP) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 50/55 30/45 30/30 40/45 55/55 Driscoll is an athletic catcher who has the physical tools to stick behind the plate, but he is still pretty raw and faced mid-major competition in college. He’s an older developmental project. 50. Victor Munoz, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 19.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/55 45/50 40/50 35/50 90-93 / 95 There was no velo bump for Munoz in 2019, who remains a good-framed teenage projection arm in the low-90s with some feel for spinning a curveball. 51. Alberto Figuereo, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 19.9 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 145 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 35/45 20/40 65/65 50/55 50/50 Like so many of the hitters in this system acquired from both the international and domestic markets, Figuereo is a contact-oriented middle infielder with a small frame. He’s behind similarly-aged players in the system like Alejandro Pie (physical projection) and Abiezel Ramirez (present physicality, a level ahead), but has a speed/contact foundation that gives him a reasonable utility infield outcome with a shot to hit enough for regularity. 52. Daiveyon Whittle, RHP Drafted: 23th Round, 2018 from Fresno City JC (CA) (TBR) Age 20.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops 40/45 45/50 55/60 40/50 89-92 / 94 A Rubenesque junior college righty, Whittle signed for $100,000 as a 2018 23rd rounder and had a velo spike in 2019. He’s now 89-92 with heavy sink (an over 60% groundball rate this year) and a good splitter, as well as a passable slider. He’s quite athletic and gets down the mound well for a 5-foot-11 guy, and he lives around the zone. It’s probably important that Whittle’s stuff keep improving, but it’s trending up enough now that he’s popped onto the radar. 53. Michael Mercado, RHP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Westview HS (CA) (TBR) Age 20.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 45/55 45/50 45/55 89-93 / 94 Mercado had surgery last May and picked up a baseball again in October. He hadn’t had the velocity uptick you’d hope a high school draftee his size would have once turning pro, but he’s still barely 21 and has a prototypical starter’s frame and some curveball feel. 54. Jayden Murray, RHP Drafted: 23th Round, 2019 from Dixie State (TBR) Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops 45/55 50/60 35/45 90-94 / 96 Murray was a $3,000 senior sign but it quickly became apparent in pro ball that he had workable stuff because of his ability to spin the baseball. After working three or fewer innings at a time for the first several weeks after he signed, the Rays took the reigns off late in August and Murray turned in some fantastic starts, including a 10 strikeout, one hit, six-inning outing to close out the season. He’s a spin rate sleeper. 55. Angel Felipe, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 22.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 45/50 45/55 20/35 93-96 / 98 Felipe remains quite raw as a strike-thrower and he’s spent a very long time in rookie ball, but he has a chance to have a dominant pitch in the fastball because of the combination of its velo and supporting traits. 56. Carlos Garcia, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR) Age 21.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 45/50 40/50 30/40 90-94 / 95 Garcia bullied Winter League hitters in Australia with a three-pitch mix, all of which flash 55 on the scale. He’s a softer-bodied, relief-only prospect. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Bounce-Back Candidates Austin Franklin, RHP Tobias Myers, RHP Paul Campbell, RHP Franklin, 22, had a heavy sinker and good curveball before he tore his UCL in mid-2018 and needed TJ, from which he has yet to return. Myers was a trade acquisition who was once a Pick to Click, a late-blooming conversion arm, but his stuff was down last year, a full two ticks since his peak as a prospect. He’s still just 21. Campbell, 24, has what would be the highest fastball spin rate on The Board if his FV merited being on there, at a whopping 2700 rpm. He also has elite curveball spin, though he had a forearm issue this spring. Thumpers Oneill Manzueta, LF Osmy Gregorio, 3B Garrett Whitley, CF Stir Candelario, LF Other than Manzueta, for whom this remains TBD, this entire group has a suspect hit tool. Manzueta, 19, posted big exit velos (averaged 89, maxed 109) in the DSL. He’s a stocky, maxed-out corner outfielder. Gregorio has a big frame and still has power projection at age 21, though it will likely mean he moves to right field and has to hit more than he has so far. Whitley has dealt with myriad injuries since he was a first round prep pick and he’s still a raw bat for a 23-year-old, though his power/speed combo is still dynamic. Candelario hasn’t hit in two DSL seasons but he has 70 raw power projection. Young Pitchers on the Cusp Matthew Peguero, RHP Taj Bradley, RHP Ben Peoples, RHP Rodolfo Sanchez, RHP Franklin Dacosta, LHP All of these guys have limited physical projection for one reason or another, either due to frame size or physical maturity. Peguero, 20, sits 90-93, touches 95, and flashes an average curve and change. Bradley is maxed out but up to 95, his slurve is the best secondary pitch of this group, and he pitched well in the Appy League last year. Peoples and Dacosta are vertical arm slot types who live in the low-90s. Peoples has an Oliver Drake arm slot and has been up to 93. He was a $350,000 sign on Day 3. Dacosta’s changeup got better last year. He was up to 92 last year and up to 94 in recent bullpens. Catchers Roberto Alvarez, C Rene Pinto, C Chris Betts, C Alvarez is a glove/contact prospect who the team has been pushing to levels tougher than is typical for his age (he’s 20), but he regressed athletically last year. Pinto and Betts have rare power for catchers and are both behind the developmental eight ball due to injuries. “Look” Relievers Josh Fleming, LHP Nick Sprengel, LHP Simon Rosenblum-Larson, RHP Evan McKendry, RHP These are all funky slot or tailing fastball relief types. Fleming is a strike-throwing lefty with a heavy sinker, a curve, and a change. He’s pitched his way to the upper levels as a starter. If a velo bump comes in a bullpen move, he’s going to be a big leaguer. Sprengel is that sort, too, a low slot lefty up to 93. Rosenblum-Larson has a multi-arm slot approach that’s cool and unique, and it’s worked up through Hi-A, but I saw him get hit a lot in the AFL. McKendry, 22, is a sinker/changeup righty up to 92. Variety Pack Ben Brecht, LHP Zack Trageton, RHP Aldenis Sanchez, CF Daury Del Rosario, SS Alan Strong, RHP Brecht, 22, has a sneaky fastball because of its carry, and his changeup is above-average. Sanchez is a speedy 21-year-old with some contact skills. Del Rosario is just 18 and is all body projection on offense, but he’s likely to stay at short. Trageton and Strong are both overachieving pitchability righties. Pro Department Under the Microscope Tommy Romero, RHP Matt Krook, LHP Jhonleider Salinas, RHP Sam McWilliams, RHP Giointi Turner, INF Brian Shaffer, RHP Peyton Battenfield, RHP Hector Figueroa, RHP Faustino Carrera, LHP Romero and Battenfield both have big fastball carry that helps their heaters play up. Salinas and McWilliams are huge frames with arm strength. Turner is a plus athlete who was very young for pro ball when the Rays acquired him. Shaffer and Krook have tailing heaters. The next two are former minor league Rule 5 picks. Carrera is up to 97 from a vertical slot; Carrera lives in the upper-80s, has an odd, low-slot delivery, and can really pitch. System Overview Yes, this is one of the, if not the, best farm systems in baseball. The team’s ideas about to how to structure the big league club — defensive versatility, platooning, contact-oriented hitters up the middle, a few delivery archetypes on the pitching staff — have now made their way to the farm system, where these types of players are all over the meat of the team’s rosters. Year after year, the club has had to deal with an overflow of upcoming 40-man adds, which has recently led it to consolidate high-variance prospects into controllable, but older, late-inning relief arms like Fairbanks and Nick Anderson. The way the Rays value prospects in this era of contention is clearly different, and they may have consistent trade partner fits in San Diego and Miami, teams that clearly like the sorts of players Tampa seems more inclined to cash in when their value is high rather than wait and see if they’re for real.